PHUKET: It took a gang of motorbike thieves operating in Phuket less than one minute to make off with a single bike, a process which the criminals admitted to repeating hundreds of times.
The revelation comes as police netted four members of a group operating on the island that has managed to ride off with more than 200 motorbikes over the last year.
The gang leader, 27-year-old Seed Chidchua, who spent two years in prison for motorcycle theft before his release in September 2013, was arrested again on Friday night.
“We were told that five motorcycles had been reported stolen in Phuket Town on Wednesday between midnight and 1am,” Patong Police Inspector Suttichai Tianpho said yesterday.
“We checked CCTV and saw that the thief was using a specially made key to start the bikes. After some investigating, we were able to identify the suspect as Mr Seed.”
Police also learned that Mr Seed and three accomplices – Adam Yousri, Anna Chuaychart and Suradet Khunphakdee – would drive to the Ranong border the next morning to sell the bikes to a Myanmar gang.
“We suspected that Mr Seed would come back and try to steal more bikes on Friday night, so we set up police teams to monitor areas in Phuket Town and Patong that we thought he might target,” Lt Col Suttichai explained.
“We caught him red-handed in Patong that night.”
Mr Seed told police that he and his gang targeted multilevel apartment buildings because of the large number of people living in them and the decreased chance that tenants might know their neighbors.
Mr Seed also said that they always stole the motorcycles after midnight, when there were less people in the parking lots.
“The ‘order’ from Myanmar is to get Honda Waves, as they are popular there,” Mr Seed told police.
He explained that the customers would pay between 20,000 and 35,000 baht per bike, depending on its condition. The delivery person would get 5,000 baht per bike.
The suspects told police that they avoided being caught at checkpoints by remaining relaxed and doing nothing suspicious as they drove through, Col Suttichai said.
“The process happens so quickly that some victims do not even realize that their bikes have been stolen before the bikes have already been driven through the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint,” he said.
Police told the Phuket Gazette that Mr Seed, Mr Adam, Ms Anna and Mr Suradet are all Myanmar nationals who also hold Thai ID cards, and that they are not the only motorbike gang of their kind.
“We believe that there are more of them who are also connected to similar gangs in Myanmar. We will hunt them down,” vowed Col Suttichai.
The suspects remained remorseless about their crimes, Col Suttichai said.
“I spent hours talking to the suspects about how frustrating and difficult it is to be without a bike after it’s been stolen. They did not care,” he said.
The four suspects confessed to the crimes and were charged with theft.
Col Suttichai urged all residents to take care when parking their bikes for the night, and to be aware of their surroundings.
“When you park your bike, please make sure you have locked it,” he said.
“Moreover, if you suspect someone is attempting to steal a motorbike please call 191 immediately. We cannot be everywhere at all times. We need your help.”
— Chutharat Plerin
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